Oregon returns to Eugene after a 49-3 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs with plenty to think about. There were a few positives to take away from this game, but they will likely be overshadowed by what went wrong in a game that had so much hype to start the 2022 season.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s game.
1. Oregon running back rotation remains undetermined
The Ducks rushed for 144 yards on 31 carries against Georgia, averaging 4.5 yards per pop. With CJ Verdell and Travis Dye no longer with the team, it was the first time in a long time that carries were up for grabs in the Oregon backfield.
We saw a bit of everyone against the Bulldogs, with Sean Dollars, Mar’Keise Irving, Byron Cardwell, Noah Whittington and Jordan James all recording at least three litters.
James finished the game with a team-best seven bins, but no back ran more than 33 yards (dollars), making it difficult to gauge who has a clear lead in this room. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a must-have duo form as the season progresses.
2. Turnovers cost Nix at the start
The biggest concern for most Oregon fans when Nix was traded to Eugene was his decision making.
On Saturday, he threw two interceptions, and both were immediately converted into Georgia touchdowns. The first interception is harder to pin on Nix, but the second interception was an obvious bad call.
There are bound to be some growing pains at a new school and a new offense, but the veteran will need to ensure he takes better care of the ball going forward if the Ducks are to succeed in 2022.
3. Tight ends will be more involved this year
One gripe I had with last year’s offense was how little we saw tight ends. Sure, we saw them get their hands in the dirt and block, but it felt like we rarely saw them used like the athletic offsets they are for the majority of defenses.
Now, with four tight purses on the roster, all Terrance Feguson, Moliki Matavao, Patrick Herbert and Cam McCormick seen the field. Ferguson even led the team in targets (6) and receptions (4). It was particularly encouraging to see Herbert and McCormick running around the field after returning from injury.
Terrell Tillmon will likely take longer to see the pitch as it passes from defense.
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Dillingham’s offense showed more variety and creativity than most we saw last year, and tight ends should play a bigger role in Oregon’s success this year.
4. Pass rush remains an area in need
Neither team recorded a sack in this game, which should be a testament to the offensive lines and elusiveness of both quarterbacks.
But I expected Oregon’s defensive front to get a lot more push than them, especially with the talent they brought from the transfer gate to build their depth inside the defensive line. . I also think that expectations are high for DJ Johnsonand it’s understandable, but it was pretty quiet on Saturday.
Georgia is a tough yardstick for any team, but getting to quarterback is an absolute necessity if this defense is to make a difference this season.
5. The fundamentals need work
There were so many missed tackles and missed missions on Saturday it was hard to count.
When it came to execution, the Ducks just weren’t up to snuff, especially on defense. For a unit that fires so many of its front-seven and plenty of defensive backs, Oregon has often been left up in the air after arm tackles were delivered by talented Georgia players.
Of course, I wasn’t expecting a perfect game, especially against an opponent of Georgia’s caliber, but I was surprised to see that since Lanning is a defensive-minded head coach. It’s things like that that help underplay your opponent, something the Ducks did too often last season.
This must be cleaned and pressed.
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